Roasted Winter Squash Salad with Za’atar and Parsley

Roasted Winter Squash Salad with Za’atar and Parsley
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS The sweet, nutty flavor of roasted butternut squash pairs best with flavors that are bold enough to balance that sweetness. To fill this role in our roasted butternut squash salad, we chose the traditional eastern Mediterranean spice blend za’atar (a pungent combination of toasted sesame seeds, thyme, and sumac). We found that using high heat and placing the oven rack in the lowest position produced perfectly browned squash with a firm center in about 30 minutes. Dusting the za’atar over the hot squash worked much like toasting the spice, boosting its flavor. For a foil to the tender squash, we considered a host of nuts before landing on toasted pumpkin seeds. They provided the textural accent the dish needed and reinforced the squash’s flavor. Pomegranate seeds added a burst of tartness and color. We prefer to use our homemade Za’atar , but you can substitute store-bought za’atar if you wish. You can substitute chopped red grapes or small blueberries for the pomegranate seeds.

3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces (8 cups)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon za’atar
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
¾ cup fresh parsley leaves
⅓ cup roasted, unsalted pepitas
½ cup pomegranate seeds

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange squash in single layer in rimmed baking sheet and roast until well browned and tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring halfway through roasting. Sprinkle squash with za’atar and let cool for 15 minutes.
2. Whisk shallot, lemon juice, honey, and ¼ teaspoon salt together in large bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Add squash, parsley, and pepitas and gently toss to coat. Arrange salad on serving platter and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Serve.

Cutting Up Butternut Squash

1.After peeling squash, trim off top and bottom and cut squash in half where narrow neck and wide curved bottom meet.

2.Cut neck of squash into evenly sized planks. Cut planks into evenly sized pieces, according to recipe.

3.Cut squash base in half lengthwise, then scoop out and discard seeds and fibers.

4.Slice each base half into evenly sized lengths, then cut lengths into evenly sized pieces, according to recipe.